The world’s longest river cruise MV Ganga Vilas will be flagged off by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on the 13th January 2023 in Varanasi. In the coming 50 days, this luxury cruise will not only bring to the world India’s potential for cruise tourism for India but will also showcase India’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and spiritual splendour.
Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and Development of Northeastern region Shri G. Kishan Reddy said, “We are a country where rivers are worshipped in the form of gods and goddesses. Indian river cruises offer something for everyone in the family”. He added, “Since 2014, in the last 8 years, there has been a significant effort to clean our rivers. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, we have taken up cleaning and rejuvenating the Ganga river in mission mode. Therefore clean rivers have ensured potential for tourist activities such as river cruising”. The launch of Cruise Tourism is an example of multi-ministry synergy and Whole of Government Approach under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership as the underlying task of cleaning the Ganga comes under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the policy for cruise tourism is formulated by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, the Ministry of Tourism provides the support in creating attractive tourism products and experiences and markets the destination.
The journey of MV Ganga Vilas, will continue on the Ganga and the Brahmaputra river, and will end in Dibrugarh in Assam on March 1, 2023 after 51 days. The cruise will visit 50 major tourist destinations, including heritage sites such as Varanasi’s famous Ganga Aarti and sanctuaries such as Kaziranga National Park and the Sundarbans Delta. In Bangladesh, the cruise will travel approximately 1,100 kilometres. The Union Minister further added, “As India celebrates its 75th year of independence through Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav we are providing innovative tourism products such as river cruising to showcase India’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and spiritual splendour”.
In these 51 days, the tourists will travel a distance of 3200 kms. This tour will continue through Patna, Kolkata, Dhaka (Bangladesh), Sahibganj, and Guwahati, via Majuli Island. Tourists travelling in this ship will visit the famous cities and tourist areas located on the banks of these two rivers.
The government of India has taken several initiatives to boost the country’s cruise tourism industry, including infrastructure upgrades, rationalisation of port fees, removal of ousting charges, priority berthing for cruise ships, and the provision of e-visa facilities. India aims to increase cruise passenger traffic from 0.4 million at present to 4 million. The economic potential of cruise tourism is expected to rise from $110 million to $5.5 billion in the coming years. To realise this, the Centre has taken up the task of developing 100 national waterways, with the goal of seeing world-class cruise ships operating on these waterways in addition to cargo movement. 12 projects amounting to Rs. 1,098 Cr. are being undertaken to improve infrastructure related to cruise shipping in India. For the majority of these projects, infrastructure is being developed with the allied facility at Major ports.